Using levitation and the deadly Care Bear Stare, Sir Issac Newton embarks to destroy counterfeiter William Chaloner and save the London economy.
As silly as the premise and title sounds, Lloyd has made a serious effort to excel with his bricolage this year. Tragically, though, the lack of editing makes this gamebook only good when he could have made it great. Imagine transplanting all the Chuck Norris memes into Leonardo da Vinci's brain. You would then get Lloyd's caricature of Isaac Newton in this twisted epoch.
The humor cruises along throughout the whole story. People don't watch a boxing match to read the newspaper. They want to see punches fly. Likewise, readers want a ringside seat in the arena of wit. Lloyd has capitalized on his strength of humor and injected hit after hit, joke after joke.
Normally I'd complain about the bloated rules section, but Lloyd has stuffed it with jokes too. The dice system has the perfect level of simplicity and common sense making it easy to remember. Yet, the instructions for will points and tests repeat themselves, despite providing many examples. Also, the random number table can mislead. If people have the internet to read this entry, they can easily google a dice-roller.
This line also sounds like a bad idea: “You will probably lose vitality even if you succeed, but you will lose more if you fail the test.” Some good ideas appear too, like allowing rerolls which cost will points. Sore losers like me can even start with three red apples that restore will, instead of the green ones which restore vitality. But shouldn't those colors switch because the whole RPG-playing world relates red to health?
The preamble lacks any writing problems, and the flow looks surprisingly good. But like many entries this year, the editing goes no further. Tense shifting in the Background section sets the tone for the sloppiness to come.
A quick rereading could have caught several problems. Section 96 has a period missing. This sentence needs a comma after robes and the s on prepares removed: “In the morning, you awake refreshed, put on some clean robes get your equipment and prepares for a new day of stamping on those who stamp out fake coins.” The subject-verb agreement problems occur throughout, as on 30: “You summon up the power inside you and unleashes two blasts . . .”
Many sentences have a wrong word: “Maybe he uses telekinesis to more a lock to open it,” “bits of them where [sic] bobbing down the river Thames,” “He cares no longer for the money for [sic] the challenge,” “How can you possible make any difference,” “You peak over the crates,” and “you use that there are several guards.”
In some areas, it would help to spot similar elements in a sentence (like thought and mind) and remove the redundancy. “With this thought in mind, you sprints through the streets.” Really, where else would a thought go but in the mind? That same paragraph on 46 also pluralizes singular verbs as if to show patois. But if you enters an inn and you spots Mrs. Brown on 46, then shouldn't 47 read you drinks and you feels? If the writing gets drunk, it must at least stay drunk.
Other problems become harder to spot among the glaring ones. With “two muscle bound thugs,” muscle bound requires either hyphenation or compounding to musclebound. Elsewhere, “Isaac Newton and the dark side of the Moon” needs italicizing and proper capitalization. “Order of the Golden crescent” needs crescent capitalized as well. Also, “wild haired assistant” needs hyphenation, and “gentlemens' club” needs its apostrophe moved before the s. The following sentence needs a comma after forces to close the parenthetical expression: “This, coupled with his powers over gravity and forces makes him a formidable force to be reckoned with.”
Below, a comma after the vague word things must separate the independent clauses.
“Sitting on street corners all day allows them to see and hear a lot of things and that is worth a lot of money to the right people.”
The sentence above also reveals Lloyd's fondness for parking lots and land lots (instead of the formal words many and much which he finds loathsome). Behold: “This part of the warehouse contains lots of lots crates.” So we have a warehouse wherein just one part of it stores car lots, and those car lots each contain lots crates—crates that can store multiple car lots.
The next two sentences look like this: “One of them has the lid off. You look inside it to find it piled high with spherical items.” By spherical items, Lloyd means spheres. His writing implies you look inside the lid, not the crate, and find the spheres piled inside the lid somehow. Not that Generation Z folk care about any of this, with your thumbs mashing five bitty cellphone keys hoping the middle one registers, but beware of it. Lloyd's “it to find it” looks bad, and “It hits it” I found elsewhere only makes us ask, “what hits what?” Also, I would have, perhaps too fussily, reworded “one of them has the lid off” so it doesn't sound like the crate has come to life and took possession of the lid that once oppressed him.
I can only pray that Lloyd teaches math.
A few better style choices, though not essential, would help too. Yet again, another entry adds spaces between paragraphs and lacks paragraph indentation. The first paragraph of the Background has nine you's. This one sentence has four: “You run up the stairs and you are surprised to find no resistance until you reach the top where you are confronted with another stone door.”
I've italicized the clichés:
“'He pays well. And he looks after his own. If you get injured, he hires good doctors to look after you. If he finds out that you need food, he gives you food. If you get in trouble, he helps you out. Money is no object to him.'”
Additionally, though not really clichés, get injured, look after, finds out, get in trouble, and helps out all have that boring familiarity from overuse. Recalling that people read for a ringside seat and not everyday chatter, consider replacing anything that sounds too hackneyed.
Moving on to gamebook issues, 89 does not clarify if the sleeping drought gets used up. In fact, the text states only “some” gets added to the bottles. Section 96 doesn't make clear what action Newton attempts with the test. “You can buy” appears 16 times on section 8. Bolding all of them didn't help Lloyd see the needlessness of repetition. Too many sections end with a goto command instead of choices. Some choices include no-brainers. Do you snoop around after coming here to snoop around, or leave without snooping? The ending involves a chain of sections to pad out to an even 100. The ending fumbles its pyrrhic aspect by making things cheery. I didn't find any Newtonian ninjutsu in my playthrough, though I noticed the appearance of a ninja as I glimpsed at a wrong section.
The game remains fun and humorous despite its many tortured sentences. The protagonist's bloodlust and haughtiness stay consistent, and we get many jabs at Newton's celibacy and competitiveness. Unlike Armstrong, Lloyd doesn't shy from harshness and due vengeance: “However, you won’t stop until he is soundly swinging from the rafters.” Armstrong, though, has probably reread his entry once or twice whereas Lloyd never looked up from his keyboard.
The end battle system works well, as do the historical factoids. And I believe Lloyd has injected something relevant about today's economic turmoils.
“I have used this money to become one of London's biggest employers with health insurance, life insurance, pensions and various other benefits. However, my contributions to the Royal coffers seem to make people think that it will destabilise the economy.”